Thursday, July 25, 2013

Week 5: Last one before Chile!!!!

HOOOOOOLYYYYYYYY COWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT IN JUST 4 MORE DAYS I'LL BE HEADED OUT OF THE USA AND DOWN TO CHILE!!! IT'S NUTS! I can barely comprehend the fact that I've somewhat learned a new language in just 6 weeks (Take that Rosetta Stone) and now comes the trial by fire, where I'll be thrown into the literal lion's den and force fed Spanish until I can finally understand and speak it fluently. Wish me luck!
I had so many spiritual experiences this week that I don't have time enough to say it... So you'll just have to wait to read my mission journals to get a full sense of HOW SPIRITUAL this week has been! I'll list some of the talks that I've read this past week and again encourage you all to go read them whenever you have some free time to spare.
  • Gordon B. Hinkley -- "Lord, Increase Our Faith"
  • James E. Foust -- "The Lifeline of Prayer"
  • "Learning to Rely on the Lord"
  • ¡The best one! -- Richard G. Scott -- "How to Obtain Revalation and Inspiration for your Personal Life"
All of these are remarkable talks that I found, and the one by Elder Scott was given to me personally by my teacher as I was having some "speedbumbs" during the past week. The messages contained in all these talks really helped me and I know that they can also help anyone who reads them with a sincere question that they have been pondering in their hearts. My testimony on this church and it's gospel was overwhelmingly increased due to these experiences.
This week I was ambushed with Love!!! Like an almost crazy amount of it! Haha. I got a 27 pound package from my Aunt Michaela containing 28 awesome ties, and BASTANTE DULCES! I'm glad my mission president isn't a dentist because he would not be proud of the sweets that are being ingested by my companions and I. Then I received one from Casey who, being a missionary himself, knows EXACTLY what a missionary wants to get in a package. Like an iPod filled with Mo-Tab and other church music, for his brother who never went a day without listening to music before his mission. And to top it all off, Alba Zarate went above and beyond on the creative aspect of packages and sent me a collection of letters from all my friends with words of encouragement, and all telling me how proud of me they are. It was really sweet and I am truly thankful for everyone who participated. It meant a lot to me :)
I leave from Provo, UT headed to Santiago Chile, then an hour plane ride from there to Concepcion! It's a 16 HOUR DIRECT FLIGHT FROM SLC TO CHILE!!!! I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW SUCH A THING EXISTED!!! So I depart the MTC at 9:30 Monday morning and my actual flight leaves at 1:55pm out of SLC, and then I'm off to the greatest mission area in the world! -- No biased there ;) Cool thing is, I'll have the chance to call home before I get on my plane so that means you, DAD, better be strapped to your purple cell phone all day monday! Hahaha

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Week 4

Hola, Amigos y Familia!
Officially one month into the mission tomorrow, and I don't even know where the time has gone! It feels like I just showed up here a few days ago and miraculously learned how to mas o menos speak in Spanish haha...
This week has been kinda rough on me personally... Not because of any poor teaching, or teachers stopping me in the middle of  my lesson but just a question that had been lingering in my mind the past week. "How can I teach with power and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost if I can't even perceive the difference between what might be my own thoughts and what are actual assertions of the Spirit?"
My answer to this question came from 2 very spiritual men. I don't even remember the name of the first, but he was the speaker at our Sunday night Devotional, and the second was Elder David A. Bednar, in a video our teacher Hermano Mitchell showed us in class. They both had relatively the same message in response to my question. Elder Bednar said it the most bluntly so I'll quote him. "All too often, people spend too much time worrying and wondering whether a thought has originated from their own minds or the Spirit. My counsel? Stop it! It doesn't matter. If it is a good thought, just do it." I'll follow up his quote with the scripture I found relating to this, Alma 5:40 -- "Whatsoever is good cometh from God." This is exactly what I needed to hear at this time because I think I'm always trying to decipher the thoughts and feelings I have into 2 categories: either my own or promptings of the Spirit. When in reality I have come to learn that I was going about it all wrong. We are all just as capable of being inspired on our own as we are through the Holy Ghost. I learned that I need to stop worrying so much on the thoughts and feelings, and focus more on the actual actions. The speaker on Sunday related his personal experience with this by saying that as a mission president he would sometimes have one of his elder's name pop into his head while driving, and without hesitating he would call that elder and leave a message saying, "Elder, I don't know why... but you are on my mind. Will you call me back and tell me how things are going, so that I can figure out why?" And then shared some pretty phenomenal stories of the results of acting on these positive thoughts.
I came across a Mormon Message video that I really liked, and then looked up the actual talk and saw just how good it actually was. The talk was called "Come unto Me With Full Purpose of Heart, and I Shall Heal You" by Elder Patrick Kearnon of the Seventy. In it was a great story about his encounter with a scorpion as a child. I don't want to ruin it, so I'll just encourage everyone to go onto and either search for scorpion and watch the mormon message, and/or search for the title of the talk and watch it! I promise you won't regret it. PS -- He has a sweet British accent... Ladies ;) hahahaha
Another thing I have learned during my month at the MTC is the importance of memorization as one of a missionary's greatest tools. The ability to recall specific scripture verses in an instant based on the conversation with an investigator is an ability that cannot be understated! Luckily I have a fairly good ability to memorize. Just the other day, I memorized Joseph Smith's first vision in Spanish in 30 minutes when our class goal was to memorize it by Friday night. I then used it in our following lesson, and amazed my teacher (AKA Investigator).
Every day we get about an hour of gym time to play volleyball, basketball, or just go for a jog. Obviously I play basketball, and yesterday I was on fire! It was legendary. I was even playing against one elder who plays college ball for BYU Hawaii, and afterwards got serious respect from him. I started off the game hitting one 3. By the end of the game I had hit 10... In a row! I had not missed a single 3 the entire game, and went 10/10 which HAS to be some sort of MTC record hahaha! Which makes me kind of sad that the only sport I'll get to play in Chile is soccer.
I also thought I'd give the missionary look a try on Tuesday, so I attempted to part my hair. Haha, I needed a crap ton of gel to do so, but I did it... once. Never again! It was the funniest looking comb-over part you will probably ever see. I'll have to get a picture from one of my companions of it.
The 4 of us Chilean Elders have also developed the growing fashion trend of "Nametag Swag!" which is this goofy thing we do with the placement of our nametags while we're not wearing our suitcoats. So occasionally they'll go on the tie, or hang off of our belts, or -- as we just tried last night -- our ears. Things can get kind of repetitive around here so we had to come up with a way of mixing things up a little.
I don't really have a very good funny story that happened this week so instead I'll share a spiritual story and my semi-funny funny story.
Last Conference Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave one of the most moving, bold, and personally one of my favorite talks. It is titled "The Greatest Commandment" and is largely based off the experience of the Apostle Peter and Jesus Crist following his resurrection. I learn something new about this talk every time I read or listen to it, and this time I learned that this talk (not the exact one, but one extremely similar) had actually been given years before at the MTC as it related to missionary work. These are a few notes that I took from hearing this talk given at the MTC:
  • I have come on this mission to "feed his sheep" because "I love Him"
  • There is no turning back from this calling [a missionary], not even after my 2 years are over, without breaking the heart of those around me and the Lord's
  • Peter became the greatest apostle, amid his rejecting of Christ at Gethsemony, and all his other faults prior to the resurrection of Christ, because he turned away from his prior life for the last time and became an Apostle of God --> a fisher of men
  • This [missionary] is not a temporary calling. While yes, we have been set apart solely as a missionary for these next 2 years, missionary work never ends. We are bringing salvation to the world by spreading the word about Christ's restored church and the Plan of Salvation.
My teacher, Hermano Mitchell, then shared this story:
"There were 3 pigs hanging out, having a good time when their other pig friend came up and was like "Hey! I learned how to fly! If you want to learn come follow me to the barn." So of course the 3 pigs wanted to learn, and headed over to the barn. The pigs were all thinking the same thing when they got to the barn and saw the other pig on the top level of the barn -- "Yeah right, there's no way this guy can actually fly..." But to their amazement he took off and began to fly around the barn. He then came down and began to teach the other pigs how to fly and after a while they were all flying. A few hours "fly" by (bu-dun, psh!) and they all decide to head home. So they say their goodbye's and walk home.
The moral of this little story is to relate to our lives after our missions. We have all been taught how to spiritually fly -- we are so inture with the Spirit, our language and teaching skills have improved by leaps and bounds, our scripture study and praying habits have been molded into everyday activities. We have learned and lived a supremely righteous life, that it would be such a waste to simply go back to the way we were before the mission and "walk home after learning to fly." The habits we learn and develop during these 2 years don't/shouldn't just disappear after we return home.
And now the semi-funny, funny story of the week!
On the first night with my new companion the question was asked, "Hey Elder Harper, you don't snore right?!" He responded with a confident "No way!". Well this past week the truth has been revealed... Normally I have been going to bed about 10 minutes before he does and so I had never witnessed him sleeping, however this past week roles were reversed and I was the one going to bed after he was. I quickly learned that I have been rooming with a grizzly bear this entire time! I try to fall asleep at night, and even when I'm totally exhausted I can't focus on anything but his loud breathing so I lay in bed wide awake. However, Tuesday night I get up out of bed around midnight and move out into the living room of our apartment and finally got some sleep on the couch... in fact some of the best since being here. And we've agreed now that is where I will be sleeping for the next 2 weeks so that I can fall asleep.
-- Elder Mundell

These are ALWAYS welcome!! :)

I wasn't paying attention and sat in a chair full of water hahaha

Check out that Stripling Warrior pic and mine and Elder Douglas' GUNS!!!!!!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Inside the Missionary Training Center: Boot camp for Mormons

By Peggy Fletcher Stack

The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Jul 12 2013

Provo » The 35-acre campus is an island of young people, where teens and 20-somethings

outnumber grown-ups by 10-to-1. Sure, the place is awash in fresh-faced students, but

even the workers — from the cafeteria to the copy center, the mailroom to the bookstore

— and most of the teachers are under 30.

It’s no "Animal House," though, with raucous frats, food fights and binge drinking.

This is Mormonism’s premier Missionary Training Center, where the men wear white shirts

and ties, the women don modest skirts and dresses and everyone is expected to heed the

rules. It ranks second among the nation’s largest on-site language schools, behind only

the U.S. Defense Department’s Language Institute in Monterey, Calif. Mormons have

"perfected their language training through years and years of experience and feedback,"

says Col. Derek Tolman, commander of Utah National Guard’s linguistic unit, who is

familiar with both systems. "The Missionary Training Center is excellent at teaching

the fundamentals in a short time. The students are highly motivated and the learning

curve is amazing."

But the MTC, as it is known, teaches much more than diction and dialects. It’s the

place, just north of LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University, where young Latter-day

Saints are molded and mentored. It’s the place they are built up and, sometimes,

dressed down. It’s the place they start to learn the languages (55 in all) they will

need to preach the Mormon message and the place they begin to bolster the faith they

will rely on to sustain the rigors of missionary life — from 6:30 a.m. wake-ups to

10:30 p.m. lights out — every day for 24 months (18 months for women).

From the moment they arrive, the newly minted missionaries are never alone — assigned a

"companion," a person of the same gender going to the same mission who will be with

them at all times. They are not allowed to phone home, chat with friends on the

Internet, watch TV or non-LDS Church videos, read a novel or a newspaper, or listen to

popular music. Oh, and no sex or dating. In short, no distractions. The MTC is boot

camp, two to nine weeks (depending on the mission destination) of intense language

study and gospel grounding. From there, these foot soldiers of Mormonism will ship out

for stations around the globe, God’s army (some call them), out to convert the world.

And now the Provo MTC is the epicenter of a historic surge. Since October 2012, when

the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lowered the age for male

missionaries from 19 to 18 and for females from 21 to 19, their ranks have skyrocketed.

So the already-young MTC is getting even younger — and more female. "Sister"

missionaries now make up 42 percent of the enlistees, up from the 10 percent to 15

percent before the age change. Built in the 1970s to house about 2,300 missionaries,

the faith’s flagship MTC now has about 3,500 residents, with nearly 900 new ones

arriving every Wednesday at a rate of 100 cars every 15 minutes. This explosion of

would-be proselytizers has required adding bunk beds to dorm rooms, originally created

for four, now equipped for six. It has meant returning a classroom building to a

residence hall, and turning the Raintree and Wyview Park apartments into temporary MTC

housing and classrooms. It has meant hiring a wave of new language teachers, who are

all recently returned missionaries, bringing the total to 1,200, up from 800 just a

year ago.

"Approximately a quarter of the current MTC teachers are women," says LDS Church

spokesman Ruth Todd. "The church seeks to hire only the best candidates to serve

there." Mealtimes are staggered in the 800-seat cafeteria, which serves 10,000 meals a

day and caters to carnivores, vegans, picky eaters and those on strict gluten-free

diets. A single mailroom processes about 6,000 letters and packages on an average

Monday, including some 5,000 printed emails going through "You don’t

want to be here on Valentine’s Day," says Heidi Van Woerkom, who has supervised the MTC

mailroom for 22 years. "We get about 13,000 packages coming in."

Despite the numbers and frenetic pace, the MTC does not seem overcrowded. A sense of

calm and order pervades the hallways of its 19 buildings. "We are so happy," chime two

Korean missionaries as they stroll along together. MTC President Lon Nally says the

vast majority of incoming missionaries "love what they’re doing." "They are smart,

energized and happy," says Nally, who has been on the job since January, "and full of

faith." Good thing. Otherwise it could be hard to survive such a demanding load.

Modern-day Babel » Missionaries learning one of the 55 languages taught at the MTC —

especially difficult ones such as Mandarin, Korean, Thai, Russian and Finnish —

typically spend eight to nine weeks there. Those learning Romance languages such as

Spanish, French and Italian stay six weeks, and those going to English-speaking

missions leave after two weeks, except for those learning English as a second or third

language. The schedule, however, is essentially the same for everyone: up at 6:30 and

to bed by 10:30, three meals a day, one hour of physical activity, and about 10 to 12

hours of language or religious training. Church services are held on Sunday and

devotionals with LDS general authorities on Tuesday. Missionaries also have a day off

to do laundry, write home and attend the nearby Provo LDS temple.

Though it seems like a one-size-fits-all approach, the training can adapt to any

missionary’s skills and needs, says Spencer Christensen, the MTC’s operations manager.

Some who have taken Spanish in high school or college, for example, can accelerate and

leave the MTC earlier than expected. Others who struggle might get individual tutoring.

They all come with varying language aptitudes, but most everyone eventually gets it —

though fluency is still months away, after they are laboring in Bangkok, Buenos Aires

or Berlin. The system works, Nally and others say, because it is based on missionaries

helping one another rather than competing and the teachers are more like peers than


"What makes the MTC so unique, and so effective in teaching languages, is that the

teachers are returned missionaries who have gone through the same process," explains

Ami Zahajko, a Mormon mom in Seattle, who taught Russian at the MTC five years ago.

"They are able to meet individual needs of missionaries. They have a lot of empathy."

The classes are small — eight to 12 missionaries in each — and use mostly the language

of faith for their curriculum. Missionaries learn to pray and preach in the new

language before they learn common terms such as "happy birthday" or "where is the

bathroom?" Zahajko’s brother, David Gillis, taught Spanish at the MTC until fall 2011,

when the curriculum moved toward an approach similar to the natural way children learn

a language. "When I started, it was very grammar-based," Gillis said. "By the time I

left, we were using more storyboards for grammar, more immersion and more freedom for

missionaries to discover meanings from context." Soon the students were speaking their

new languages more rapidly, while mastering words drawn from the faith’s basic


"I’m teaching the language and the gospel of Jesus Christ, plus the Thai culture," says

Brigham Shipley, a BYU marketing student who served in Thailand. "We want missionaries

to integrate into the culture." On a recent day, Shipley is standing before a white

board, covered in what looks like squiggles — the Thai alphabet. "We strive for 100

percent speaking Thai in class," Shipley says. "The first two weeks the teacher speaks

all Thai, then slacks off a little. It’s more of an immersion, which requires immediate

participation." Learning the language is the "most difficult part" of the MTC, says

Sister Elizabeth Stevenson, of Montana. Thai has its own alphabet and the "letters look

like Ramen noodles — no spaces between the words," Stevenson says, "but the characters

correspond to sounds so it is easier in that sense." But it helps, she says, when

native language speakers who live in Utah come to class to engage the students as if

they were "investigators," or potential converts.

On top of classroom instruction, missionaries spend individual time in computer labs,

where they record themselves saying a sentence and then listen to a native repeat the

same sentence. "I learned more Spanish here than sitting in a high-school class for two

years," says Sister Jessica Howard, of King City, Calif., who is headed to Argentina.

"It is really helpful to hear natives speak. But, she adds, the Holy Spirit is the

"real teacher."

Making it work » It takes detailed planning, logistical wizardry and quick responses to

make the MTC run smoothly, while reacting to medical emergencies, forgotten passports,

visa headaches, legal entanglements and family dramas. Plus, the system is always

trying to adapt to 18-year-olds who have never lived away from home. Don’t put your

suits in the washing machines, warns a sign posted in the laundry room. The campus is

governed by a clear male hierarchy with Nally at the top and his two "counselors," as

in any Mormon presidency. The MTC also is parceled into six "districts," each with its

own full-time adult leader. Missionaries are further divvied into language-speaking

"zones" and "districts" for their training. Those correspond to small ecclesiastical

units, known as branches. Each of the MTC’s 75 branches has 30 to 50 members,

supervised by a branch president and two counselors.

On Sundays, these 225 spiritual leaders organize worship services, including sacrament

meetings and, for the men, priesthood meetings. Sister missionaries come together for a

single Relief Society meeting, which usually features a speech by women from that

organization’s general board. They also have a short dress and grooming lecture. These

branch presidents and their wives are available on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for

counseling — and lots of young people seek it.

"Homesickness is a real issue," says Margaret Young, a Brigham Young University

professor whose husband, Bruce, served as a counselor in a French-speaking MTC branch

from 2008 to 2010. "We did lose a few to anxiety." Most didn’t realize they would have

a problem until they got to Provo, Young says. Then they questioned whether they would

be able to learn the language or whether they had what it takes to be a missionary.

Some young people resent the center’s structure and all the rules; others wrestle with

their faith. But the system is not set up for failure and not many do, Nally says,

estimating that fewer than 0.05 percent leave, and that number includes all those

facing language, medical, emotional or spiritual issues. The MTC produces "an extreme

sense of unity," Young says. "You put a group of people in a survival situation and

they will bond." And before they know it, these missionaries’ religious batteries are

charged, their language training complete and their confidence soaring. They take

FrontRunner and TRAX to the airport, so they can jet off to their assigned areas, where

the real learning, hardships, growth and joy take place. Back at the MTC, another 100

cars pull up to the curb and more young, eager prospects emerge. The spiritual pep

rally begins again.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Week 3

The countdown has begun! Two and a half weeks from now I will be the greenest of greenies in Chile, unable to understand even a fragment of their speed spanish... But I can't wait!!! I thought I got excited each year as a kid when Christmas would roll around, but that doesn't even compare now to the enthusiasm I have to get out in the field now. I'd say the excitement is amplified 10 fold!
This past week was full of its highs and lows. Last email I mentioned how because it was the 4th of July we would get to see fireworks and overhear the Kelly Clarkson concert going on just a couple blocks down the street... Well, we got 1 of the 2! Haha. The fireworks were pretty sick and I saw a few go off that I'd never seen before, but the funny thing is what the MTC did to make sure we didn't hear the sweet, sweet hymns sung by our dear Sister Clarkson. They herded us all into the chapel, locked the doors, and instead played us the movie "17 Miracles". Which admittedly was pretty good, but let's be real... It ain't now Kelly Clarkson concert hahaha
The next night there was the wildest thunderstorm I've seen in a while. It was NUTS! The lightning would flash up near the mountains and you could see the whole branching effect of the lightning, and then be followed by a huge thunderclap. Just as I was settling into bed that night there was one blast of thunder that shook our apartment and was so loud and sudden that it wouldn't surprise me if there are some pee stains in the beds of several elders :P
A highlight of this week was getting my first letter! It was a dearelder letter from the Wedekind family (so when you guys read this, if you could shoot me all of your email addresses so I could respond to that awesome letter, that'd be great!)
Amid all this positive stuff was a serious gut check too. Two lessons in a row my teachers (acting as our investigators) stopped my comp and I mid-lesson because we were not "teaching with power". We were saying plenty of good things but the most vital piece of missionary work was missing -- The Holy Ghost. I learned that it is the Spirit's job to confirm what we're teaching, and that without it our words can only do so much... Definitely a humbling moment that led me personal evaluation and deep scripture study to try and learn and understand how to improve. What did I find? The best help wasn't actually found in my scriptures, but rather the words of an apostle. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland game an amazing talk (of course...) on Missionary Work that I found really applicable to my situtuation called "Missionary Work and the Atonement" <-- A good sunday read for anyone. And it really helped to get my mind back in place and refocus. But after that little hiccup things have turned around and Elder Harper and I have re-found our groove! Which just makes me think of this: "THE GROOVE, THE GROOVE!!! DON'T THROW OFF THE EMPEROR'S GROOVE!"
This was the week for funny stories! I've got a few, plus one amazing date idea that I was shown. My poor companion is the subject of both stories! hahaha, so here we go... Fresh outta the journal!
This one happened the afternoon of that day we got stopped mid-lesson in our morning investigator lesson:
"On a much lighter note, my companion Elder Harper accomplished another embarrassing feat today! We were teaching a pretty solid lesson to our investigator today about repentance. Everything was going great, I even used the visual demonstration of pepper (sins) on top of water (our lives) and soap to represent how repentance works to make us clean and clear away our previous sins... Trust me, IT WAS LEGIT!!! Then as our lesson progressed I think Elder Harper must have checked out because I had gone off of our pre-planned script. So anyway, we get to the end of our lesson and I ask our investigator if he would say the closing prayer (asked him in Spanish, of course) but Elder Harper wasn't following so as we knelt down to pray our investigator was collecting his thoughts and Elder Harper interpreted the silence as his cue to say a prayer! He started praying, which caught my investigator and I totally by surprise so we both look up, give each other a little smirk and the look of "what is this guy doing?!" But I didn't want to interupt so he said an entire prayer (which admittedly was one of his best yet) but it was just SO FUNNY that he didn't understand the investigator had already agreed to pray, but got his chance stolen by my companion. He's just so full of FEO ;) -- recall back to the first embarassing moment of Elder Harper's haha"
This was yesterday:
"Funny story! I LOST MY COMPANION TODAY! We were headed over to the computer lab to do our Spanish grammer study and I was walking behind Harper when I thought I'd take a shortcut and jump down onto the patio and go in throught the sliding door rather than walk the 10 steps more to the front door of the class. It's a common practice of mine -- laziness -- so my companion knows that I do this from time to time. But apparently after I had jumped into the classroom, he turned around and didn't see me so he ran back to our other classroom thinking I had gone back because I had forgotten something -- another thing which happens just as frequently haha. But I don't see him run back and then proceed to do a wild manhunt to find this guy. Eventually I climb all 3 flights of stairs, checking every classroom, run into the awesome Finninsh sisters, tell them my story, they panic which made me even more nervous that I'd lost Elder Harper forever. 10 minutes go by and then he walks into the classroom that I had jumped into in the first place with my 2 other companions in my district. So if anyone could send me one of those backpack leash things that little kids wear, that'd be sweet!"
And this has to be the slickest date move that I came across... We were in class when we look up at the ceiling and see something kind of written on the ceiling. So we turn off the lights and in glow in the dark paint, written on the ceiling is "KISS ME". Two years from now, do not hold it against me when I use this on one of my dates hahaha
- Elder Mundell

P.S. TIES!!!! Ties are great, since their my only sense of fashion I get to have for the next two years :) So if you want to gather up the rally cry to family and friends to send me care packages while I'm still in the MTC that would make you just THAT MUCH COOLER! :D

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Week 2

You TOTALLY need to send me a care package! Like, en serio! Just with some little treats, aaaaand maybe if you're feeling super awesome a tie or two. REALLY COOL ONES WITH SWEET DESIGNS!!! They changed the mission rules and now we can wear whatever tie we want :) so please please por favor send me some sick, fresh ties! You can look up my mailing address on my Facebook. ASAP por favor too... I don't have that much time left here at the MTC and its pretty tought to mail packages to Chile. :) Gracias!
So here's the lo-down for the past week:
I'm doing awesome! Seriously, I'm really loving it here and being a missionary! The spirit has never been so strong and such a guiding influence on my life as it has been here at the MTC! I've had SOOOO many great memorable moments already and I'm not even half way done with my time here! Yesterday marked the beginnning of my 3rd week at the MTC!!! I can't believe it! I'm 25 days away from going to Chile now. Needless to say, I'M PUMPED!!!!!!
Every Sunday and Tuesday we have devotionals and they are the most amazing thing in the world. On those days I easily write at LEAST 3 - 4 pages in my journal full of inspirational and spiritual thoughts that I can't wait to look back on and remember later on in the future. This Tuesday we had Brother Matthew O. Richardson, 2nd Counselor in the General Sunday School Presidency, talk at our devotional and this guy is a total Stud in my books (in Spanish we'd call him "Capo" = Stud). He told the neatest story about his mission and also of President McKay's mission in Scotland where he came across this stone that changed his mission and his life. It had a quote on it that read, "What e'er thou art. Act well thy part." Then the message Bro. Richardson shared combined with quotes from President McKay's actual journal was probably the coolest thing I've ever heard. To summarize what was said, pretty much we all have a purpose in this life. We've all had the experiences we've faced to make each one of us unique and at the same time, able to relate with the joys and stuggles of others -- Perfect message for missionaries to hear.
I have also come across the GREATEST HYMN EVER SUNG! Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) needs to listen to it. It's called "I Love The Lord" sung by a BYU Priesthood Choir in the April 2007 Priesthood session of conference. Since I first heard it on sunday, I've probably listened to it about 30 times, no joke!
Today as you may be aware is July 4th! So get this... There's a Kelly Clarkson concert going on across the street from the MTC and FIREWORKS, and we get to watch/listen to the whole thing. Tonight is going to be so cool! I haven't heard real music in what feels like a millenium. I'm starting to have withdrawals from music... I can't think of a single day where I haven't listened to music and now I've been doing it for the past 3 weeks. Let's give Elder Mundell a round of applause for that hahaha ;)
On a related note... the Elders and I have formed a little vocal band... Seriously, I don't know how we got to be so freaking cool! The way it all got started was pretty spontaneous too. The other night I was singing "7 Nation Army" by The White Stipes in our room when my 3 other companions all joined in with bass lines, drums, and symbol sounds while I SLAYED THE VOCALS!!!! Hahahaha. It was the coolest, funniest thing to happen in our room yet! Not to mention the fact that it's pretty ironic how I used to never sing anything and now I cant stop singing songs and hymns just anytime out of the blue. I even participate in every choir opportunity they have here (except for the sundaybroadcast a few weeks ago).
And now the moment you've all been waiting for....... FUNNY STORY OF THE WEEK!
Our district is super close to one another and we take breaks all the time from sudying just to share stories and get to know each other really well. So last night one of the girls in my district was reading one of her letters out loud and found out that her older sister had just had a baby and named it after some beach in Australia (cool idea right!) So then I tell them how I totally wanna name my son something cool, give him a name that no one else would have. I told these Sisters that I was going to name my son Glutteus Maximus Mundell. At that point 2 of our 3 Hermanas started giggling, but the funny story happens because of this 3rd Sister... She said "Oh, that name sounds so familiar! Who is that?" And there was NO WAY I was going to let this opportunity slip, so I just had some fun with it. "Yeah, Glutteus Maximus was this super famous Roman soldier! He was always in the rear of the formations, in the back behindeveryone else. He was a pretty crappy fighter though..." It was so funny! I was using all these butt puns and she still wasn't catching on until I finally told her that Glutteus Maximus actually meant your butt. Hahahahaha
Well that's it for this week. Please keep the emails comeing. USE DEARELDER.COM SO I CAN GET YOUR EMAILS IN THE MAIL AND READ THEM DURING THE WEEK AND NOT HAVE TO STRUGGLE TO READ THEM ALL DURING MY ONE HOUR OF INTERNET USE PER WEEK. Hahaha, I don't think I can emphasise enough how usefull of a tool that is for me.
Thank you for all the love and support,
Elder Mundell

Week 1

I'm doing so good! Thursdays are my P-days so keep the emails coming por favor! In fact, if you could use to write me that'd be even better! They print out the emails you send to me and I get them in my mailbox that day! It's rediculous how fast the learning curve is here. I got in here just a week ago and my skills with both the language, gospel doctrine, writing in my journal, prayers, feeling the spirit.... everything here is excellerated 10 fold! I LOVE IT! So we started teaching our first "investigator" just 2 days after being here (talk about trial by fire) we literally spent the entire lesson with our faces in our spanish-english dictionary. But now I'm feeling a lot more confident in my abilities as a missionary and can speak the language a lot better.
It was fairly easy to adjust to the schedule because of going to the academy the last year and being used to being told what to do the entire day, but the biggest change I've seen is just the difference in exhaustion. It's totally a different beast here! Like I'm used to physically exherting myself practically everyday but the mental exhaustion from spending all day learning and straining yourself to speak in a foreign language is crazy! I find myself getting back to my room at9:30 wanting nothing else but to just drop dead on my bed, but then I remember that I need to write in my journal and make time for scripture study and companion prayer. Just within the past 3 weeks they expanded the MTC and now I'm on the new campus which is good and bad... This campus is so much more relaxed and fun and open, but the food.... IT'S TERRIBLE!!!! No hot meals. Breakfast is a maple bar and a bagel (every stinking day). Lunch is cold, left-over salad from the main campus. Dinner is hit and miss though... that's the only meal they really put any effort into. So now I'm defying the odds and actually slimming out at the MTC! Hahaha
Funny you mention that broadcast because I never knew the camera was on me lol... I was either taking notes or looking the other way whenever it hit my section. My companions though, they definitely knew. Me though... totally clueless. But being in that meeting was pretty sick! Granted there wasn't the big reveal that I thought there would be after the rumormill had worked its way throught the MTC, it was all just about member missionary stuff. But it's funny because in my journal I was taking notes and after the first talk I was confident that they were going to open up the technology block and let missionaries have computers so that we can invite people from our homes rather than trackting.
My companions are the greatest group of guys. We all have the same sense of humor and get along great with laughter but we definitely have our super spiritual moments too though. Their names are Elders: Midgley, Douglas, and Harper. Elder Harper is my companion and actually spent this last year at the Prep School at West Point, but doesn't plan on going back after his mission. Smart man! ;) Haha. Me and Elder Douglas are the two goofiest ones of the group and keep everybody laughing. We're also the best ones at spanish, so after seeing that we're not companions it's just proof that we are paired with our companions through real inspiration, this way we can help our campanions learn and not just have the best ones excelling. Just wait for some of the stories to come! :D
Let's see... funny story of the week? My companion and I were preparing to teach our investigator and were going to teach him about Faith and how important it is. Now in spanish the word for Faith is "fe", and I had tried to drill this into my companion's head because that would be the key phrase of the day. However, he made the mistake to think that that sounded to simple and "not spanish enough" and added an 'o' to the end of the word... "feo" in spanish means ugly. He spent an entire 45 minute discussion on Faith, telling our investigator that it's suuuuper important to be ugly! Hahahaha it was too funny to try and stop him so I just let nature take it's course :) I would look up at our investigator now and then and crack a smile and he would just wink and give me a little smile because we both knew what was going on. P.S. -- our investigator is really just an MTC teacher who was acting the role of a real life investigator he had on his mission. So there's nothing wrong with messing up like that.
Overall, I'm really enjoying my time here. I'm confident in my learning and feel like I will do well on my mission. Keep the mail coming (remember to use a little bit too) and CARE PACKAGES ARE ALLLLLLWAYS WELCOMED!!!! CANDY and GREEN LIFESAVER MINTS are a prized possession.

If anybody wants to know my mailing address for letters or CARRRREEEE PACKAGES, it can be found in the comment section of my last facebook post. Gracias!

- Elder Mundell